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Pen Pen: Inmate Encourages All to Vote… and Legalize Marijuana

While the golfing criminal in the White House tries to suppress voting, a felon in South Dakota’s big house urges us all to exercise the right that his own crimes have denied him:

Sam Lint, Inmate #16334, letter from South Dakota State Penitentiary, postmarked 2020.09.24, p. 1.
Sam Lint, Inmate #16334, letter from South Dakota State Penitentiary, postmarked 2020.09.24, p. 1.
Sam Lint, Inmate #16334, letter from South Dakota State Penitentiary, postmarked 2020.09.24, p. 2.
Sam Lint, Inmate #16334, letter from South Dakota State Penitentiary, postmarked 2020.09.24, p. 2.

Sam Lint's envelope


1. Two hours off on Election Day: Lint refers to SDCL 12-3-5:

Any person entitled to vote at any election held within this state, including a primary election, shall, on the day of such election, be entitled to absent himself from any service or employment in which he is then engaged or employed for a period of two consecutive hours between the time of opening and the time of closing the polls; provided such person does not have a period of two consecutive hours during the time the polls are open during which he is not required to be present at his work or place of employment. Such voter is not, because of so absenting himself, liable to any penalty, nor may any deduction be made on account of such absence from his usual salary or wages. The employer may specify the hours during which such employee may absent himself as aforesaid.

An employer who refuses an employee the privilege conferred by this section or who subjects an employee to a penalty or reduction of wages because of the exercise of such privilege or who directly or indirectly violates this section is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor [SDCL 12-3-5, last amended 1982].

2. Taco Tuesday: Tack your two-hour voting break onto your lunch hour, and you can hit the Taco John’s drive-through first and grab a whole sack of provisions in case there’s a line. Who knows—maybe sharing with grouchy Trumpsters will help cheer them up amidst their growing sense of doom.

3. Opioid overdoses: Data from the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates that in 2018, South Dakota’s age-adjusted death rates for opioid overdoses and all drug overdoses were among the lowest in the nation; however, in 2019, South Dakota saw the largest jump in overdose death rates, 54%. The American Medical Association released an issue brief on September 8 warning that more than 40 states have reported increases in opioid-related mortality amidst the coronavirus pandemic. The University of Baltimore’s Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program reports that drug overdoses are up 18% during the pandemic.

4. Suicide rates: The CDC reports that 12 states had higher suicide rates than South Dakota in 2018.

5. Prison time for failed drug test: True—South Dakota is the only state that makes ingestion of a controlled substance a felony.

6. Forced catheterization: Well, at least we’ve turned back one bit of barbarism in South Dakota.

7. Legal cannabis and drug overdose rates: The National Institute on Drug Abuse says research so far is inconclusive:

A new study underscores the need for additional research on the effect of medical marijuana laws on opioid overdose deaths and cautions against drawing a causal connection between the two. Early research suggested that there may be a relationship between the availability of medical marijuana and opioid analgesic overdose mortality. In particular, a NIDA-funded study published in 2014 found that from 1999 to 2010, states with medical cannabis laws experienced slower rates of increase in opioid analgesic overdose death rates compared to states without such laws.1

A 2019 analysis, also funded by NIDA, re-examined this relationship using data through 2017. Similar to the findings reported previously, this research team found that opioid overdose mortality rates between 1999-2010 in states allowing medical marijuana use were 21% lower than expected. When the analysis was extended through 2017, however, they found that the trend reversed, such that states with medical cannabis laws experienced an overdose death rate 22.7% higher than expected.2 The investigators uncovered no evidence that either broader cannabis laws (those allowing recreational use) or more restrictive laws (those only permitting the use of marijuana with low tetrahydrocannabinol concentrations) were associated with changes in opioid overdose mortality rates.

These data, therefore, do not support the interpretation that access to cannabis reduces opioid overdose. Indeed, the authors note that neither study provides evidence of a causal relationship between marijuana access and opioid overdose deaths. Rather, they suggest that the associations are likely due to factors the researchers did not measure, and they caution against drawing conclusions on an individual level from ecological (population-level) data. Research is still needed on the potential medical benefits of cannabis or cannabinoids [National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Marijuana as Medicine Drug Facts,” retrieved 2020.09.27].


  1. Eve Fisher 2020-09-27 15:38

    Considering the number of DUIs, alcohol-related accidents, alcohol-fueled rages and domestic abuse, alcohol-related drug addictions (the real gateway drug to meth and other hard drugs is alcohol, not pot), alcohol is far more dangerous than marijuana. Marijuana’s primary side-effects are hunger, humor (lots of laughing), and sleepiness. Marijuana is also an effective medicine for many complaints. Sam’s right, it should be legalized.

  2. Bob Newland 2020-09-27 19:08

    The prisoner doesn’t mention his own offense against the peace and security of SoDak or the nation, but he does eloquently express an undeniable truth. Cory appears to concur.

    The truth is that it is economically tragic and immorally bigoted to put people in jail for attempting to feel better.

    Not one person ever altered his/her path to experimenting with psychotropic substances because to do so would violate a ridiculous law.

  3. grudznick 2020-09-27 19:46

    One study found that marijuana use contributed to the demise of 168 fatally-injured truckers in all cases in which the serum concentration of THC exceeded one nanogram per mililitre, which is about a quarter of a wet bong or a couple of stubbies. The demon weed is bad, it is bad.

  4. jerry 2020-09-27 21:00

    Speed kills Mr. grudznick. Them little white pills and other forms have contributed to a whole lot more than 168 deaths. Deaths from coming down or deaths from going up in both civilian and military operations. Friendly fire from the air and unfriendly driving, the devil drug, speed.

  5. jerry 2020-09-27 21:04

    Ruh oh, the wheels are coming off the trump clown car.

    “Deposed Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale has been hospitalized on a psychiatric hold after barricading himself in his Ft. Lauderdale home and threatening to harm himself with a firearm. According to a local press report, “Fort Lauderdale Police responded to a home in reference to an armed male attempting suicide Sunday afternoon. When officers arrived on the scene, they made contact with the wife of the man who told them her husband was armed, had access to multiple firearms inside the house and was threatening to harm himself.

    Parscale’s wife apparently called 911, telling police her husband was threatening to kill himself.” Here is a feller that could use some serious medication…my suggestion would be some edibles to calm himself down.

  6. Debbo 2020-09-27 21:31

    Legalize weed via the constitutional amendment so the GOP doesn’t wreck it. They hate it when citizens speak their minds through I&R and legislatively distort citizens’ will beyond all recognition. Go for the amendment so they can’t do that.

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